They say a series doesn’t really begin until someone loses on their home-court. Well, Heat vs Pacers is now officially a series, and I think it happened a bit sooner than most thought.
Without Bosh, the Heat really struggled to score in the paint and defend in the paint. LeBron and Wade did their best to make up for it, both with fairly healthy numbers on the statsheet. But when the game was on the line, that ‘ol clutch issue came back to haunt the Heat. Their execution was average in the final moments, they missed key free throws, and LeBron the MVP again looked like he didn’t want a bar of the last play. Not that it’s all LeBron’s fault, but missing two key free-throws with 54 seconds left certainly didn’t help his cause. On to the votes then.
3 votes – Tim Duncan. Can’t remember the last time Timmy snagged 3 votes here in the Playoff Diary. It was certainly a bit of a throwback for the 4-time champ, dropping 26 points on 12-20 shooting, along with 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The Spurs got a very balanced effort on a night where Tony Parker really struggled, but knowing they can still get 26-10 from Duncan against the likes of Griffin and Jordan must be extremely comforting for Coach Pop. I still don’t think the Spurs can win the title, but I’m warming to them, very slowly.
2 votes – Paul George. You wouldn’t know it from glancing at the box-score, but George was Indiana’s best tonight. 10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists, and a game-saving block on LeBron in the dying minutes. I love the defensive energy this guy is bringing, and his three-point shooting is keeping the Miami wings honest. Not to mention his 11 rebounds in this game which was his second best rebounding effort all season – that is what I call raising your game when it counts. Perhaps the most telling number on this night though? George’s+20 differential. By FAR the highest of anyone on the court (Hibbert was second with +12).
1 vote – Eric Bledsoe. You won’t hear about it, but Bledsoe went absolutely nuts in this game. Off the bench in just 27 minutes, he registered the following numbers: 23 points (on 10-16 shooting), 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. This for a guy that averaged 3-1-1 during the regular season. I’m not making this up. This guy has turned out to be an absolute gem for the Clippers and given them bench depth I just didn’t think they had. Like I said, you won’t hear about this game, but we can’t let it go unnoticed here in the Playoff Diary.